Films on protest allowed, but protesting film students harassed at IFFI

GOANEWS DESK, PANAJI | 22 November 2015 22:04 IST

You can speak, voice out, cry out, protest against the government or the whole system for that matter; but only on the silver screen at the International Film Festival of India. If you actually do it, you will not be allowed to enter the IFFI venue.

This is perhaps happening at the 46th IFFI, especially in case of the students and ex-students of the Film Training Institute of India (FTII), country’s premiere institute of film training.

Till now, from the day IFFI started on 20 November, the organisers have arrested two protesters, detained one and prohibited some from entering the venue.

Reason? They went  on a 139-day long strike from 12 June to 29 October and continue to protest against political appointment of Gajendra Chauhan as the institute's director.

Kislay Gonzalvez and Shubham, two FTII ex-students were arrested and released the next day, when they shouted slogans and displayed placards almost at the fag end of the IFFI inaugural on 20 November.

When a team of eight Goan lawyers came forward voluntarily to argue for them in the JMFC court of Panaji, the Goa government argued: “These ex-students of FTII caused international embarrassment to India.”

Besides charges like trespassing (in spite of having valid passes) and assaulting the government servants on duty (when actually police forced them out), they were also charged of ‘impersonating as guests.’

“When I argued in what way they had impersonated as guests when the cards did not have photo identification, the public prosecutor had no convincing reply to it”, said Adv Albertina Almeida, who argued the case.

On 21 November, FTII student Ashutosh Vandana was picked up by the police and produced before the organisers to get his delegate card cancelled, for the simple reason that he was wearing a T-short of FTII.

“When asked, he told the police he had come to watch the films as well as to participate in the protest. Isn’t it our democratic right to protest against the injustice?’, asked Adv Almeida.

In a similar manner, V Raghavendra, another FTII intern at  the Film Bazaar was told to leave the venue, Marriott Resorts, in spite of having official delegate card, informed Adv Almeida.

And came 22 November, when seven FTII students were stopped by the police from entering Kala Academy venue to watch a film.

Even after issuing them delegate cards after completing all the valid procedures of online registration, they were suddenly sent a mail that their registration is cancelled, ex-student Gonzalvez told goanews.com.

When they went to question ‘why’ to the authorities at the Entertainment Society of Goa, the authorities had no answer.

“They were verbally told that they would be allowed to watch movies”, said Gonzalvez.

“It seems as if coercion, intimidation and use of brute force to subdue the voices are higher on priority for the I&B ministry than genuinely engaging with the stakeholders who are raising the concern for preserving the integrity of a national institution like FTII for the past six months” stated a press release by the Students’ Association FTII.

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